The following letter was sent to me by Carrie Nepstad. Carrie is a HWC child development professor and chair of our Assessment Committee. She is a pillar in the HWC community and has inspired me time and again to be a better professor. She asked me to post this letter to the Harold Lounge, to which I happily agreed.
An Open Letter to Laurent Pernot and Rasmus Lynnerup in response to the recent meeting in which the CCC Child Development consolidation plan was announced:
Dear Laurent and Rasmus,
I was on the call with you last week regarding the plans to restructure the Child Development program and I want you to know that I found the entire interaction to be unprofessional and insensitive.
I received a forwarded e-mail from my College President at 6:00 pm on Wednesday night for a 12:30 pm meeting the next day. The message was forwarded to me, as if inviting faculty to this meeting was an afterthought. The meeting was set in the middle of July when faculty are not contractually obligated to be on campus. Clearly, this was an intentional choice.
The meeting was scheduled for a 15 minute time-slot and it was communicated to me during the meeting, more than once, that there was no time during the call to discuss the decision-making process. It was simply a meeting to announce the decision. This decision affects all of us in many ways. After years of rumors, speculation, and denials you were finally making the official announcement. Yet, in the meeting when I asked for a rationale for the decision, you explicitly stated there was no time for any discussion about that. You were speaking to faculty who between us have served this institution for more than 50 years. It was insensitive and unprofessional of you to dismiss my question.
For the record, we disagree with the decision to move all Child Development programs to Truman. The main reason we disagree with this is because it will have profoundly negative implications for our students who live on the south and west sides of the city. The shuttle is not a solution to their transportation and time limits, nor is CTA for that matter. We will lose these students and what you don’t know, because we were not at the table to inform you, is that this will negatively impact early childhood education programs across the city.
I realize this is a business decision and that’s your purview, not mine. However, what has been missing in our interactions with each other is the fact that this business is all about supporting the teaching/learning process. Your jobs and all your colleague’s jobs at the District Office exist in order to support that interaction. Why then, do you disregard faculty input? My input, after 12 years of experience with CCC students, has value. I do not expect to sway all business decisions, but I do expect to inform the decision-making process with my specialized knowledge of the field and of my students and their needs. My expertise has value, and I refuse to have you dismiss it, which is why I’m sending this communication.
We have been told, behind the scenes and in various contexts, to not be “emotional” during interactions with District Office. I disagree with that advice. Emotional intelligence and skills related to emotional intelligence have value in the real world. I teach my students about the value of collaboration, active listening, and respectful, reciprocal interactions with others. These skills are expectations of my field, but they are also sought across many professions and industries. We can do better with our interactions with each other and the key to that is true collaboration.
We have been asking for this plan for many years – since Reinvention began. We have asked to be at the table. Being called to a 15-minute announcement meeting is not “being at the table”. We need to work together to make this restructuring successful. We want that for our students – they are your students too! Please work with us and stop dismissing our questions. It’s counterproductive and highly unprofessional.
I’m sending this to you as a personal interaction. However, I also plan to make this letter public because I want the community to know how the decision to restructure Child Development has taken place. One small hope is that for the next restructuring meeting you have, perhaps you will plan it differently. I believe we can work together, but it will take a paradigm shift. If you want plans like this to be successful, I think it would be helpful if you start building relationships with faculty rather than shutting them down or closing them out. It makes better business sense and, frankly, it’s just a nicer way to work.